Thursday, November 22, 2012

Luther Forest - Pre-Thanksgiving Ride

Luther Forest - Malta NY

November 22nd, 2012

I went upstate to spend time with Mom and Dad for Thanksgiving. Uncle Ted was there as well.

Since turkey time wouldn't happen until 3 pm, I scooted out for a nice ride over in Malta. The weather was a bit chilly and I over-dressed as usual. After riding for ten minutes or so, the balaclava and extra layers were overkill. Of course it got warmer as well!

Armed with a mobile version of a map of the park, I felt comfortable to go exploring, knowing I could pull out my iPhone when needed to re-orient myself.

The first loop down into the ravine was nice, there were tight turns here and there to keep it interesting. Sadly the ride back up and around was too much for me (it was REALLY steep), so I walked it.

The loop off the the left was smooth sailing -- easy flat terrain and great trail flow.

I had to stop and strip down a bit as the weather was getting nice and sunny and I was sweating like a pig!

Regretably, once again I bombed down the second loop off to the right. It really feels like the main trail and the speedy descent is nice but the climb back up is a little tough if you are not prepared for it (and in my case: OUT OF SHAPE!).

Once back up on the main trail, I decided to take the shortcut down to the stream (this stretch is a bit of an eroded fall line) and discovered a fun easy loop that winds back around before crossing the foot bridge. I stopped and shot a photo on the bridge of the stream. It's awfully puny to have caused such a large ravine! :-)

After I was across, I remembered the nice contoured climb I did last time -- and although I was huffing and puffing -- I made it!

Realizing it was getting a bit late (I had promised to got to the store with Dad before the meal), at the top of the hill, I remembered the quick way out and (1) looped thru the bowl, (2) followed the windy gully edges and (3) swooped on out to the parking lot.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Colonie Town Loops

Colonie Town Loops - a.k.a. The Shale Trail

September 9th, 2012

It was a toss up on Sunday. I really wanted to go back to Luther Forest – mainly to ride and photograph the half pipe north shore feature but I opted at the last minute for Colonie instead.

I always try to ride Colonie whenever I visit my parents. I love this spot and think it’s a little more challenging than Luther Forest. Lots of roots, unexpected twists and turns, short hill bursts and — most of all — GREAT TRAIL FLOW – keep Colonie a fun spot to ride.

The weather was fantastic! A powerful thunderstorm the night before had cleared away the humidity and temps were down 10 degrees or so. As a matter of fact, on the short rail trail ride, needed at the start to get to the mountain biking trails, I was cold! Of course after a few minutes of climbing in the warmer woods, I was warm and sweating.

I went in on the west side for a change (I usually ride to the far east entrance and follow the perimeter of the park, circling back to the western ridge for the finale).

After a short steep climb (of which a frustratingly had to hike 10 ft of), I hit the main shale trail on the ridge and was off and running.

This session, I decided to try as many offshoots as possible and looped all over the place. As the (incomplete) map indicates, even tho’ the park is small, there are lots of trail choices.

(1) A plethora of curves and switchbacks, (2) roots galore in spots, (3) unexpected bursts of short climbs, (4) occasional sections of loose shale on the tread and (5) the unexpected handlebar-width-only tree gaps to traverse; make Colonie a fun but challenging place to ride!

I rode the whole park, exploring the east side as well and finally made my way out back across the top ridge before a quick steep rocky descent out to the rail trail and parking lot.

Surprisingly considering how great he weather was; after close to two hours in the park, I never encountered another rider – just a group of older hikers examining a huge rotten tree stump.

Shale Sections

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Luther Forest - Hilly Loop Twice...

Luther Forest, Malta NY 

September 8th, 2012

This weekend I was hanging upstate with my Dad since Mom and Kittie were in Florida at Aunt Ro’s Funeral.

On Sat, the weather was a little cooler but still humid. I got up to Luther Forest after 10 AM and took the southeast entrance at the parking lot. I hadn’t explored the south side of the Park yet… There were moments of sunshine but most of the time, it was gray and cloudy. On the south side, the trail flow was a little different: long stretches of straight away thru woods with a denser understory. (See map at bottom of page)

Even with a map, I quickly lost my sense of direction and ended up doing a hilly loop twice. The side loop was a great bomb downhill but a tough slog back up – lots of roots on a steep incline so it was hike-a-bike for about 15 ft or so (As always, I need to pump a lot harder earlier and stand up sooner when I’m climbing...)

I finally got out of the hill loop and rode on the main trail further. I encountered a couple of bikers at a three-way intersection and showed them my map to ask directions. I wanted the recommended way to get across to the other side of the ravine.
After a short chat, I was on my way and soon found myself across the stream, winding along a trail at the bottom of the valley. It paralleled the stream for a bit and then curved way up the hill. There were quite a few trail choices here as well as another footbridge back across the stream but I just rode whatever trail I fancied at the moment!

I ended up riding up a nicely curved trail that followed the side contour of the hill. It’s curved, wide-switchback made the climb easier and soon I was skirting along the edge of another small ravine. Twisting and turning, this type of ledge-hugging trail was typical of most of the trails on the northwest side and – altho’ not that technical--its constantly changing, so you still have to stay alert as you ride…

One section I photographed demonstrates how the trail curves around a short “peninsular ridge.”

Ridge Peninsular Curve

 One section had a huge half pipe with a wooded north-shore-type ladder across the bottom and there was even a tall skinny made from 2x4s nearby (I didn’t attempt it).

Once again, I had no idea where I was but fortunately I ran into a couple who – once I showed them my map – told me were I “probably” was.

It was getting time to head home so I took my chances on a few more trails and found myself on an interesting ride around the circumference of a huge bowl-shaped field. This finally took me over to the other ridge area which I recognized from my ride back in April. I eventually found my way back to the parking lot…

It was a great ride. I can't wait to get back sometime to ride the rim trails again and try the half pipe – making sure to take a photo next time!

All in all – this park has great trail flow and kudos to the trail builders – it’s a fun place to ride!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wilton Woods - Back Blue

Wilton Woods - Back Blue

September 2,  2012

A tough trail - not for the faint hearted (or me :-) )

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mianus - Air Time for Greg

Mianus River Park - June 10th, 2012

- Air Time for Greg -
Greg jumping on the Ridge Run Trail at Mianus River Park. 
Only taken on my poorer-quaility cell phone, much to the chagrin of Greg!

Friday, April 20, 2012

First Time at Luther...

Luther Forest STEP Trails - Malta NY 

April 20th, 2012

After my Disaster Relief work in Prattsville NY, I went "home" for a quick visit with my parents. I went up that afternoon to Luther Forest in Malta to check out the trails.

Sadly, I first made the mistake of riding the 100 Acres Park—it totally sucked for mountain biking: all double track with squishy woodchip-laden tread. Turns out, as I found out later, mountain biking wasn't even allowed there!

Finally I found the good trails over off of Hermes Road and rode the trails around the gully, etc. by taking the north entrance out of the parking lot.

These were great trails—tight single-track with lots of flow! Much of the trail loop ran along the edge of a 20-40 ft gully and include lots of well-banked curves and even a short half pipe section. There is little stone in the terrain so there were zero rock gardens but there were occasional roots and lots of variety with the way the trail closely followed the contour of the terrain. Not too techincal but lots of fun - super flow!

Obviously these trails were built by smart mountain bikers and look very sustainable. A great ride if you are in the area. I plan on going back and hit the trails from the south side parking lot entrance whenever I am back in the area. There are apparently a lot more trails I missed...

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